Friday, July 30, 2010

My overly simplistic solution for solving unemployment and public health

30 Hour Work Weeks. Everyone works 3/4 time.

Instead of hiring six employees to work 240 hours per week, an employer could hire eight employees to work 240 hours per week. All those extra jobs will put a huge dent in unemployment.

Those eight employees have the equivalent of an extra day off and 30 extra minutes per day to exercise, cook dinner and spend time with family and friends, thereby making our society healthier and happier.


Edit: Forgot to mention that productivity generally rises as hours decrease.

I knew I wasn't the first one to think of this, but here's an article discussing it much more eloquently.


  1. Americans don't want to exercise and cook dinner and spend time with family and friends. They want that extra little bit of money to spend on shit they don't need.

    And Japan has been doing more or less what you are suggesting, actually.

  2. Totally agree that's how it should be, but is it gonna be federally mandated? Does that interfere with the contracts clause -- do people have a constitutional right to work their arses off if they want to?

    This is sort of like the grade curve problem. If everyone just chilled out we could all get good grades, but there's always some gunner out there aiming for the A+.

  3. It wouldn't be mandated for everyone, just for certain industries. It doesn't interfere with anyone's right to work; it merely forces employers in certain sectors to pay overtime for employees who work more than 30 hours. Thus, it is in their economic interest to hire more workers, assuming the cost of paying extra benefits is less than paying the overtime.

    While it wouldn't be mandated for much of the private sector, I believe the effect of instituting the policy would eventually lead to common acceptance in a good number of industries. Anyway, it won't take 100 percent of the country working 30 hours to bring unemployment down to acceptable levels.

    From wikipedia:

    The United States Adamson Act in 1916 established an eight-hour day, with additional pay for overtime, for railroad workers. This was the first federal law that regulated the hours of workers in private companies. The United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act in Wilson v. New, 243 U.S. 332 (1917).

    The eight-hour day might have been realized for many working people in the U.S. in 1937, when what became the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S. Code Chapter 8) was first proposed under the New Deal. As enacted, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented about twenty percent of the U.S. labor force. In those industries, it set the maximum workweek at 44 hours.